Romania does not want to ditch marriage but to preserve it. And to preserve itself. This is our right and our duty.
The citizens of Romania have launched a constitutional initiative to inscribe in their Constitution the natural meaning and definition of marriage as the union between a man and a woman. Romania does not want to ditch marriage but to preserve it. And to preserve itself.
The process started in October 2015 and the proposed constitutional amendment is now making its way through the Romanian Parliament. The initiative was launched by the Coalition for the Family – www.coalitiapentrufamilie.ro/english, an umbrella coalition of over 40 nongovernmental pro-family and prolife organizations in Romania.
The initiative seeks to amend Article 48 of Romania’s Constitution to define marriage as the country’s citizens desire. Just like the Irish 2 years ago. Though the citizens’ initiative needed 500,000 signatures before the Parliament could consider it, nearly 3 million citizens signed it in the span of only six (6) months. Nowhere in the world has such a large number of signatures been given in the past in support of a similar initiative. The closest number that comes to mind is California, where in 2008 over one million signatures were given, the amendment was put to a state-wide referendum, and passed, in November 2008, with about 52% of the votes. Mind you, though, California has 35 million people, and Romania only 20.
The task to secure the 3 million signatures was daunting, an epic campaign never before undertaken in Romania. In July 2016, Romania’s Constitutional Court ruled constitutional the proposed amendment but only on procedural grounds, adding that it was not called upon or competent to rule on the constitutionality of the amendment’s substance.
In the meanwhile, Romania’s politicians dragged their feet, which was to be expected. The Obama Administration, through its Ambassador to Romania, pressured the Romanian Government to block the initiative. The US Ambassador summoned the leaders of Romania’s various political parties for special discussions designed to intimidate them or persuade them to block the project. The European Union put pressure on the Romanian Government to do likewise. The pressure was so intense, that, in the fall of 2016,
Romania’s President, Klaus Iohannis, announced publicly his opposition to the initiative, naming those supporting it „religious fanatics.“ Anti-marriage, feminist, fringe, extremist, pro-abortion, and anti-family groups from the United States and the European Union also came out publicly against the initiative.
Eventually, however, politicians changed their mind, because, when citizens are about to go to the polls, politicians pretend to listen. In December, Romanians voted in parliamentary elections. Beforehand, the Coalition for the Family secured memoranda of understanding from the main political parties which bound the political class to vote on the proposed Constitutional Amendment in January 2017 or no later than spring, and ensure the amendment would be on the ballot no later than April of this year. Not surprisingly, though, the politicians did not keep their word, once more.
More trouble came about after the first of the year when a group of over 40 Democratic members of the US Congress dispatched a letter to the Romanian Government and the leaders of the main political parties asking them to block the initiative.
After much delay, on May 9, 2017, the Romanian Chamber of Deputies voted on the constitutional amendment, approving it by a vote of 232 to 22. The international media did not report on this. Before the amendment can finally be put to a national referendum, however, it also has to clear the Romanian Senate. Once that is done, the referendum must occur within thirty (30) days thereafter. To validate the amendment, the voter turnout has to be of at least 30% of all citizens eligible to vote, which means about 6 million people. What are the chances of the amendment being adopted? Not bad. Opinion polls suggest a possible passage rate of 80%.
Please pray for us and encourage others to do likewise. We need to benefit from your Christian support and solidarity. We will keep you posted as additional relevant events unfold.